THE emotion was written on Paul Whittaker’s face as the fund-raising total was revealed.
“I’m absolutely blown away by this,” he said, as he buried his face in his hands.
The Towergate Accumulator Challenge had seen Towergate Insurance hand £50 notes to 52 companies who then turned it into a staggering £65,549 – all for the benefit of St Nicholas Hospice Care.
The grand total was revealed at an awards ceremony at the West Wing, Ickworth House, on Tuesday night.
It was only the third year of the challenge – Paul and hospice fund-raiser Abby Mayes were hoping for an increase on the £40,243 raised last year.
The amount raised was annouced by Tom Pellereau, last year’s winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice
“I’m hugely impressed by what you have achieved,” he said. “This is a fantastic event and such a great idea.
“The top three businesses raised £23,000 between them. This is a huge amount of money.
“I did a quick calculation and this is a 1,380 per cent return on investment which is better than you get from most banks. I hope Lord Sugar doesn’t expect the same from me.”
The emphasis was put on the fun of fund-raising and a short film included some of the creative ideas that firms came up with, including management at Abbeycroft Leisure who went through the pain barrier of a body waxing.
It also featured Highpoint Prison which was given a certificate after prisoners took part in a rowing challenge.
“You have all come up with some really inventive ways of raising money for us for which we are grateful,” said hospice press officer Camille Berriman.
Barbara Gale, chief executive at the hospice, said: “Fund-raising is fun, the hospice is fun as well. We try to make the most of every single day for people at the hospice.”
She told how the hospice contacted the council to allow a dying man to go fishing for the last time at Hardwick Lake.
“He caught seven fish – I didn’t realise there was seven fish in that lake,” she said.
“We are your hospice – we are here for you and your friends and the people who work for you.
“We couldn’t do it without your support.”
After the presentation, Mr Whittaker: said: “Abby came to me with this idea and it really excited me.
“It seems to have gripped people’s imaginations.
“As a company we have supported the hospice for many years – but this seemed a good way of getting a lot more people involved.
“Hopefully, it will help the hospice to continue to provide such a fantastic service.
“None of us knows if we might one day be glad for their services.”